I am working on a publication in InDesign, working on a 2019 Macbook Pro display, in which there are around 300 links to images. Some images are in RGB, and some in CMYK. Here is an example of an image on-screen:

enter image description here

I would like to prepare the file for printing, by making sure all images are converted to CMYK. I have tried all the different options in the output section of the Export PDF dialogue...

I notice that when Profile Inclusion Policy is set to Don't Include Profile (as requested by the printer) – the exported PDF looks very darkened and dull in the System Viewer (Preview), going into greenish-yellow:

enter image description here

However, when I open it in Adobe Acrobat Pro, the colours looks much more true to the original:

enter image description here

I would like to know how to convert my whole PDF to CMYK, and preserve the nice colours, while not including the profile in the PDF (as the printer requested)...

I would be very thankful for the correct course of action, to deliver to the printer a CMYK-only PDF, with colours as faithful to the original as possible.

Thank you!

  • You need to use the correct CMYK profile recommended by the printer, and it's quite a big subject really. But one thing I can quickly tell you is that Mac's Preview is not to be trusted when it comes to print PDFs.
    – Wolff
    Feb 15, 2022 at 13:57
  • Thank you for the answer! The thing is that the printer recommended not including any profile, but just sending a CMYK-only PDF... However, when I do that, the colours on Preview look so muddy... Which makes me scared that the prints might come out wrong...
    – DmnkVD
    Feb 15, 2022 at 14:48
  • 1
    "preview is not to be trusted" truer words have never been spoken. Acrobat is much more trustworthy for preview, especially if one calibrates the monitor
    – Yorik
    Feb 15, 2022 at 15:37
  • See this related question, if not quite a duplicate: Problem converting from RGB to CMYK for print.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 15, 2022 at 16:36
  • To not include a profile is not the same as to not use a profile for conversion. Actually there is no way you can convert from RGB to CMYK without using a profile. It's set in Export Adobe PDF > Output > Color > Destination. For your colors to look on print as they look on screen, you have to use the color profile recommended by the printer. And to get proper preview in Acrobat you have to make sure to set Output Preview > Simulate > Simulation Profile to the same profile. If they don't recommend one? Uhm, that's a bad sign. That probably means you can never expect color likeness.
    – Wolff
    Feb 15, 2022 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


In fact, when you convert RGB to CMYK, the color is impossible to be consistent. (See why)

We suggest that you'd better convert the RGB image into CMYK in Adobe Photoshop. when you finish the conversion, you can see that the image is darker than before. Then you can use PS to adjust the color to make it achieve the effect you want as much as possible. Save the picture as CMYK and then use it in InDesign. When exporting PDF using InDesign, select no color conversion and do not include the profile.

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